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to Holdingen. Both infantry regiments are in bad shape. My right flank is wide open except for some reconnaissance elements, TDs and stragglers we have collected and


organized into defense teams at road centers back as far as Cheram [Cherain] inclusive. Two German Divisions, 116 Pz and 560 VG, are just starting to attack NW with their right on Gouvy. I can delay them the rest of today *maybe* but will be cut off by tomorrow.


VIII Corps has ordered me to hold and I will do so but need help. An attack from Bastogne to the NE will relieve the situation and in turn cut the bastards off in rear. I also need plenty of air support. Am out of contact with VIII Corps so am sending this to you. Understand 82AB is coming up on my north and the north flank is not critical.


BOB HASBROUCK


The First Army headquarters was in process of drafting plans for uniting the XVIII Airborne Corps and the St. Vith force when General Hasbrouck's letter arrived. General Hodges' answer, dispatched at 1230, stated:


Ridgway with armor and infantry is moving from west to gain contact with you. When communication is established you come under command of Ridgway. You retain under your command following units: 106th Inf Div, RCT 112, and CCB 9th Armed Div.... [Ridgway] holds Malmedy, Stavelot and Trois Ponts....


For the first time since forming the St. Vith perimeter the force there knew what measures were under way for its reinforcement or relief as well as the precise status of command within the force. Thus far General Hasbrouck and General Jones, the two division commanders, had directed the units in the perimeter on a basis of mutual agreement, although Hasbrouck, with the largest force in his own command, made most of the decisions. As the 7th Armored commander phrased it: "I never knew who was in my command. I just did everything I thought necessary. The command status was more or less of an assumption." Actually the perimeter held from St. Vith westward was so large and the defending units so thoroughly mixed that command functioned on an area basis, even after the receipt of the First Army order, with the 106th Division headquarters continuing to direct the defense south and southwest of St. Vith. [1]


To the surprise of the St. Vith forces this day (the 20th) passed rather quietly. Only a few feeble German jabs were directed against the American line, which on its eastern face had been strengthened by a series of withdrawals to more favorable ground during the previous night. The American positions were much better integrated than on previous days: the 7th Armored Division artillery and attached battalions-of particular importance the one medium tank battalion- were tied in closely with the troops they supported. Finally, the enemy was under compulsion to reconnoiter anew the outlines of the American eastern front which had been redrawn during the night of 19 December. German reports covering activity on the 20th assume the defense of the St. Vith area as much stronger than it was in fact. The enemy was much im-


[1] The exchange between the commanders involved in the St. Vith defense will be found in the G-3 journals of the XVIII Corps, the 7th Armored Division, and the 106th Division. The military student will be interested in the delay between the dispatch of the various messages and their receipt. For the last phase of the battle see Boyer, St. Vith; CCB, 9th Armored, journal and AAR; the various battalion journals cited in Chapter XIX; and General Matthew B. Ridgway, Soldier: The Memoirs of Matthew B. Ridgway (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956).